On one of my recent trips to record shop, I scored a couple picture discs by one of my favorite bands, Def Leppard. The one we are going to talk about first the 12″ Single Picture Disc for the song called “Make Love Like A Man” off the band’s 1992 album ‘Adrenalize’. The store I bought this at is called Noble Records and is one of my favorite local record shops in Charlotte. Noble Records has a YouTube channel and he constantly posts videos of collections he has bought and what he will be putting out on the floor. When he has big collections purchased, they usually go out on a Saturday at 10am. I was watching the video and he quickly flipped past the two Def Leppard picture discs as I could tell he isn’t a fan…but I am. I knew immediately I had to have them.
I got up on Saturday, mask in hand and headed to the store. The store was packed and actually made me a little nervous. However, everyone was wearing masks and being polite. Although I am not 100% sure we were following perfect Covid social distancing protocol, I was willing to take the risk. I went in and told Dillion what I was looking to get and he told me where they were (if they were still there and someone didn’t already have them in hand. I went through that stack and lo and behold, they were still there. I grabbed them, paid for them and got out in maybe 5 minutes and immediately hand sanitized my hands. I was so excited to grow my Def Leppard collection a little more.
I know, I know…what am I, 5 years old!! At least that is what my wife thinks, but when I saw these at the store and for only $5 a piece, I had to have them. Why? Because it is Def Leppard and I like collecting things that are Def Leppard.
Yes, Funk Pop! have released a set of figurines for each current member of Def Leppard. And they do a pretty good job on getting it right, but I have a few complaints. First, who do they have?
For My Sunday Song #157, “Blood Runs Cold” from the 1996 album ‘Slang’ is our song of discussion this week. The song is certainly a deep cut as it was never a single and not sure if they played it live. ‘Slang’ was a highly underrated album and was at a time when Grunge had killed the 80’s rock so Lep went out and did their own thing. Most people wanted more of the same, but this was from it. This song is a ballad, but not like any ballad they had done before.
The song is another tribute to their fallen comrade, Steve Clark. “Blood Runs Cold” was written by Joe Elliott and Phil Collen and this is the second tribute they had written for Steve, the first being “White Lightning” which we discussed several weeks back. This one was a cold, feeling ballad full of sadness and emptiness for missing their friend.
It really is a dark song and I love how the bass playing by Rick Savage is really the focused instrument. Just give a listen to how he plays the song and how the notes are hit with the right tone and timing. He does a stellar job with this song.
Joe’s sadness shines through as he sings the lyrics and I love in the middle of the song, Phil’s backing vocals sound amazing and adds an extra level of pain to the lyrics with his delivery of the lyrics. Then the guitar solo also has the sad feel to it as well. It is really a heartbreaking song especially when you listen to the lyrics.
For My Sunday Song #153, we are exploring the great song “Paper Sun” from the band’s 1999 album ‘Euphoria’. The song was released as a single in the U.S., but to little fanfare despite it being one of the best songs on the album.
The song is about the Omagh terrorist bombing on August 15, 1998 in Northern Ireland. Here is what wikipedia says about the bombing…
It was carried out by a group calling themselves the Real Irish Republican Army, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) splinter group who opposed the IRA’s ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement. The bombing killed 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins) and injured some 220 others, making it the deadliest single incident of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Lyrically and musically, the song is very dark and sad. At over 5:26 minutes, the song takes you on a journey through the emotions of that sad day. It feels like they are losing hope in humanity and in life. The world is so fragile as if made of paper that could burn up in an instant. Lyrics, like “Do you still hear ’em screamin'” is full of the pain that one would feel if they were at the bombing and could hear the cries for help and the cries of sorrow for those lost.
Tesla decided to make a new album after saying the last one was…well the last one. Thankfully, that is not the case. Tesla’s new album is called ‘Shock’ and there has been a lot said of this new album and about how much it sounds like Def Leppard since it was produced by Phil Collen, lead guitarist of the band.
And let me tell you, they are 100% RIGHT!! It really does!! Mostly, it is from the backing vocals. On a lot of the songs, the backing vocals have been done in the same way Lep does it. In fact, all the backing singers sound exactly like Phil. Now, I am not saying sounding like Lep is a bad thing. It is, however, a little distracting and a little detracting.
From the opening track, “You Won’t Take Me Alive”, “Taste Like”, “I Want Everything” and “Afterlife” it is the classic Lep sound. They aren’t bad songs at all and they do grow on you with each listen. It is just strange. At times I feel like I am listening to a Lep album with a new lead singer.
The album is also very soft at time. It has several ballads (“We Can Rule The World”, “Love is a Fire” and “Forever Loving You”) and even a breezy little song called “California Love Song”. At times you could compare this album to Def Leppard’s X (often called the “Love” album for it’s ballad heavy track list).
For My Sunday Song #99, we will tackle the Def Leppard power ballad, “Love Bites”. The song is off the Diamond selling album, ‘Hysteria’ and was Def Leppard’s biggest hit, if you can believe it. It is the only Def Leppard song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Considering this was the fifth single off the album and with the success of “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, I was completely surprised by that fact (PSSOM did go to #2).
The song was originally brought to the band by the legendary producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. The song was a country song at the time and of course the band put their spin on it and turned it in to of the great rock power ballads of the time. The title for the song actually came from another song that Leppard was working on and that song later became “I Wanna Be Your Hero” which was the B-Side for “Animal” in the US.
What I like about the song is that the guy is so in love with this person that he is actually going a little nuts. Hell, just touching her drives him crazy. But he isn’t sure she feels the same way. He keeps questioning her. Maybe it is really his own insecurities that are causing him to doubt the relationship. Or maybe she doesn’t love him and he really senses something missing.
Def Leppard is back on tour and this time they are out with Journey on a co-headlining trek around North America. The last time the two bands toured together was 12 years ago and I missed that tour (I am sure it had to do with having an almost 3 year old and maybe another on the way). Whatever the reason, I missed it and I wasn’t going to do that again.
When tickets went on sale, I joined the Def Leppard Rock Brigade so I could get early access to tickets. And damn, tickets were expensive. This show wasn’t going to be just 2 tickets, I had to buy 3 this time as my wife and my oldest daughter (the one that was almost 3 is now almost 15 – my 11 year old opted out), were joining me on this one. My wife was going for Journey, but my daughter was going for Leppard (and now has the shirt to prove it). Me…I was actually going for both. I have seen Leppard numerous times, but I have never seen Journey…crazy, I know. Here is what you get for joining the Rock Brigade…a T-shirt & a Pin…
Back to tickets, Lower Level seat were kinda ridiculous. They were at least $150 or so a piece and then even higher the closer to the stage. I settled for 3 Front Row Tickets!! That is right 3 Front Row Tickets!!! Of course, front row in section 226 on the upper deck because I do have to eat and these were only $99 a piece (only…like $99 is cheap). Hey, I had an unobstructed view of the show and I could sit if I wanted and not miss a thing. No real complaints (except I will pay more next time…and there will be a next time).
For My Sunday Song #75, I am bringing you the song that started it all for me…”Photograph” by Def Leppard. It was the first single off the massive hit album ‘Pyromania’ and it was the song that started my obsession with Def Leppard. From that point on, music took a whole new direction in my life. It was my passion. I tried to play guitar (rather unsuccessfully) and I couldn’t sing, but I could listen to music.
The song was perfect in my book. The video was mesmerizing. The two together captured my attention like nothing ever had. The song has such a melodic melody and the guitar solo and background vocals were all spot on thanks to Mutt Lange behind the boards. The guitar riff on the song that is played throughout is instantly recognizable.
I had heard of Def Leppard as my brother had one of their albums, but it was this song and this album that made me a fan…no a fanatic with this band. I had to have the albums, the singles, the shirts, the posters, the pins…you name it, I had to have it. And it still goes on today. They release a video and I own it; a live album and I gotta have it; a deluxe version of an album I already have, yep, I get that as well. It doesn’t matter.
Thirty years ago on August 3rd, 1987, Def Leppard released their fourth studio album, ‘Hysteria’. Little did they know this ground breaking album would go on to sell over 25 million records, produce 7 hit singles and go to #1 on the Billboard Charts. The album was a labor of love for the band as it took several years to record and they struggled so much during this time.
There were so many setbacks during the recording of the album. First, Robert John “Mutt” Lange turned down the producing job for the record after he had recorded “High & Dry” (my personal favorite) and “Pyromania” although he did help in the initial song writing for the record. The band went through several producers during the recording including working with Jim Steinman of ‘Bat Out of Hell’ fame. Their relationship did not go smoothly and he was later fired (they paid him a lot of money to get out of the contract so it must have gone badly). Later in the process, “Mutt” did come back and produce the final product and then history was made.
The second big obstacle was Rick Allen’s car accident that severed his arm. Yes, the drummer of the band lost an arm. With all respect to the band, they did not abandon Rick. They stood by him and supported him until he was capable of playing the drums with one arm using an electronic drum set and a set of foot pedals to compensate for the lost arm. It definitely was a trying time. I won’t go into much more as you can watch the documentary included to learn more.
If I remember correctly, there was an interview with Joe Elliott a long, long time ago asking him about Cover albums and Live albums and why Def Leppard hadn’t done any of these albums. His response was something to the effect that bands that have nothing else to give do those kind of albums (not a direct quote). I tried finding the article, but was unsuccessful. Well, 1 Cover album and now 3 Live albums later, I guess Def Leppard has nothing to give…Okay, we know that is wrong as Def Leppard has still put out great albums in between all these Live albums and the Cover album. His opinion of them has apparently changed.
This post will be the first in a 3 part series discussing Def Leppard’s 3 Live Albums including ‘Mirror Ball’,‘Viva! Hysteria’, and ‘And There Will Be A Next Time…’. We will start the series in chronological order starting with the 2011 release ‘Mirror Ball: Live & More’.
‘Mirror Ball’ is the first official release on CD for any Def Leppard recording. I have bootlegs of live albums, but glad to see an official release of live material. It was long overdue. The album was a 2 CD set and included a Bonus DVD as well which I will discuss later in the post. The CD packaging is one of those old thick plastic cases that doesn’t hold up well. I cracked the back of the case on the day I bought it. I don’t remember what I did, but it is nicely cracked now.